Why we had don’t eat poop shirts in 4 languages: CDC Emergency partners and limited English proficiency

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control there are at least 350 languages spoken in U.S. homes (2009-2013 data).

People who have limited English proficiency can be found in all 50 states (2014 data).

About 65,00 people in the U.S. who have limited English proficiency speak Navajo or another native North American Language (2009-2013 data).

    Effective communication during an emergency can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. This is true whether communicating with those whose primary language is English or with people who have limited English proficiency. People who are limited English proficient (LEP) are those who “do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English” (https://www.lep.gov/faqs/faqs.html#OneQ1).

People who are LEP can be found throughout the United States and when it comes to planning for, responding to, and recovering from disasters, considering their needs can help ensure a better emergency response. Below are some tips from our colleagues at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for reaching LEP communities in emergency preparedness, response, and recovery.

Establish policies and procedures that include language access in your emergency plan.

Identify the language groups in your area.

Ensure LEP individuals can access your programs and services.

Conduct outreach efforts.

Include LEP individuals and language access issues in training,

Provide notifications, warnings, and other information in the languages of the affected communities.

Plan for language access needs as part of survivor care.

Do not rely upon children as interpreters and translators.

For more information on how to carry out these recommendations and where to find tools to help take action, see Tips and Tools for Reaching Limited English Proficient Communities in Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.

Food safety or hockey, language goes a long way; a Punjabi broadcast draws in new hockey fans

While packing up endless stuf to bring to Brisbane tomorrow, I had the Rangers and Devils on in the background this afternoon, and now have Canadians-Leafs on the computer, exchanging text barbs with daughter Braunwynn who does not yet know the sorrow of a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, and packing more.

Harnarayan Singh and Bhola Chauhan are the voice of the National Hockey League in an animated stream of Punjabi, punctuated with courtlynn.poop.aug.12English words like “linesman,” “icing” and “face-off.”

The New York Times reports Singh spoke at great volume as Toronto scored its first goal, crediting wing Joffrey Lupul for what translates to “picking up the wood,” a traditional Punjabi battle cry akin to bringing the house down.

“Chak de phatte goooaaalll Joffrey Lupul! Torrronto Maple Putayyy!”

A few minutes later, Winnipeg’s Chris Thorburn and Toronto’s Colton Orr dropped their gloves and began pounding on each other, and Singh rose in his chair to animate each blow. As the players were led to the penalty box, Chauhan, an Indian-born draftsman, writer and taxi driver wearing a cream-colored turban, read a fighting poem he had written based on a Punjabi style of verse.

The guy who is winning has a punch like a lion, and takes over the fight.

He hits like a sledgehammer.

They’re rivals, and he’s hung the other out to dry, not letting him go.

The weekly Punjabi broadcast of “Hockey Night in Canada,” as venerated an institution for Canadians as “Monday Night Football” is for Americans, is the only N.H.L. game called in a language other than English or French.

The broadcast marries Canada’s national pastime with the sounds and flavors of the Indian subcontinent, providing a glimpse into the changing face of ice hockey.

Singh, 28, has developed a signature style tailored for his audience. A puck can be described as an “aloo tikki,” a potato pancake his mother makes especially well. When a team comes back in the second period with renewed energy, Singh might say what translates to “someone life.hockeymust have made them a good cup of chai in the intermission.” A player who celebrates after a big goal will “dance bhangra moves.”

The number of children playing ice hockey in Canada has remained stagnant, said Paul Carson, vice president for hockey development with Hockey Canada.

“Growth in this country is coming from immigration from a lot of non-hockey-playing countries,” he said. “They’re coming from the Mideast, Africa, East and South Asia.”

The members of Singh’s family, like most of Canada’s 1.1 million Punjabi speakers (almost twice as many as in the United States), are Sikhs. The religion is centered in the Punjab region, which straddles northwestern India and Pakistan. Sikhs have been in Canada since the late 19th century.

Singh’s parents, Santokh and Surjit, were born in India and moved to Canada in the late 1960s, to work as teachers in Brooks, a small town in Alberta. Singh, the youngest of their four children, was born in 1984, months after Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers won their first Stanley Cup.

So far, the best way to generate new fans seems to be having a successful home team. The Washington Capitals have broadened their appeal among young Hispanics and other minorities because of the star power of Alexander Ovechkin.

“Now there’s an explosion of interest in that community because they all want to play hockey,” said Peter Robinson, a Capitals official who oversees amateur hockey development. Local rinks are adding classes every week to keep up with demand, he said. “Their parents and grandparents didn’t pay attention to hockey, but now hockey’s everywhere.”

Sorta like food safety.

FDA figures out Americans speak many languages

The. U.S. Food and Drug Administration now offers publications in five foreign languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

The Packer reports the agency’s Office of International Programs began offering the foreign language versions in early April. The intent is to enable the FDA’s foreign counterparts and industry to better understand the agency’s laws and practices.

Among the translated publications is the FDA’s produce guidance document, “Guide to minimize microbial food safety hazards for fresh fruits and vegetables.” It and other documents are available in the foreign language versions on a special page on the agency’s website:www.FDA.gov/translations.

As a language professor I hang out with might say, translation often fails to capture cultural nuances and meaning. I say, if the message isn’t clear, don’t expect a translated version to be clear or clearest.

Do I have (duck) egg on my face; listeria in fried duck thingies in France

I make mistakes when I blog, trying to combine speed with accuracy. Usually they are corrected without much fuss; but when it involves language, and especially French, it gets dramatic.

My friend in France sends me stories about food-related recalls and outbreaks on a daily basis, usually from a French media source. Amy the French professor toiling away downstairs has her own work to do so I try not to bug her.

Lately I’ve been using goggle translate – oh, that’s google, I have a habit of writing goggle –to get the jist of the story and then blog it without bugging the French prof.

So when google translate suggested duck cracklings, I went with eggs, knowing I had a great picture of farm-fresh duck eggs from my colleague Kate. Turns out it was fritons or grattons or grillon, which was translated as cracklings, that showed up positive for listeria at Intermarche Figeac. They are, according to my French friend, small pieces of duck, fried with the fat of the duck (right, exactly as shown).

The French prof says she will use this as a translation anecdote for her students next semester and why humans are better than goggle – google.

Language a ‘risk factor’ for listeria in Australia

Focusing on the language needs of expectant mothers and enhancing food safety in hospitals could reduce cases of foodborne illness caused by listeria.

Australian researchers report in the current Epidemiology and Infection that of 136 cases of listeriosis in Australia between Nov. 2001 and Dec. 2004, 40 per cent of cases with prior hospitalization were exposed to high-risk foods during hospitalization; consumption of camembert cheese was an additional risk factor.

Of the 19 perinatal cases — defined as illness in a pregnant woman, fetal loss, or illness in a baby aged less than 3 months with isolation of L. monocytogenes from at least one of the maternofetal pair — living in a household where a language other than English (LOTE) was spoken was the primary risk factor associated with listeriosis.

The numbers are small, but the researchers have identified a persistent problem – providing information is nice, but what if the target can’t read or understand (in this case) English?

“The Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) website only provides a brochure on listeriosis and food in English. Languages used in State and Territory brochures vary widely with some only including English while others provide up to 14 languages other than English.

“This study identified that listeriosis prevention messages need to be disseminated in multiple languages and primary-care practitioners should ensure that patients from households speaking a LOTE receive counselling on listeriosis prevention.”

Which sounds nice, but since hospitals are serving high-risk foods to others at risk, maybe the medical community is a limited source of information. And just because a brochure is in another language doesn’t mean anyone will read it or act upon the information. That requires far more rigorous evaluation in terms of information needs, delivery, messages and accuracy. The morons at Toronto Sick Kids hospital told moms-to-be that cold-cuts and raw fish were OK (they’re not).

As the authors conclude,

“The effectiveness of the implementation of the new food safety programs for food service to vulnerable persons should be carefully evaluated to ensure optimal protection of this group.”

A national case-control study of risk factors for listeriosis in Australia
Epidemiology and Infection (2011), 139: 437-445
C.B. Dalton, T.D. Merritt, L.E. Unicomb, M.D. Kirk, R.J. Stafford, K. Lalor and the OzFoodNet Working Group
Listeriosis is a foodborne disease associated with significant mortality. This study attempts to identify risk factors for sporadic listeriosis in Australia. Information on underlying illnesses was obtained from cases’ treating doctors and other risk factors were elicited from the patient or a surrogate. We attempted to recruit two controls per case matched on age and primary underlying immune condition. Between November 2001 and December 2004 we recruited 136 cases and 97 controls. Of perinatal cases, living in a household where a language other than English was spoken was the main risk factor associated with listeriosis (OR 11·3, 95% CI 1·5–undefined). Of non-perinatal cases we identified the following risk factors for listeriosis: prior hospitalization (OR 4·3, 95% CI 1·0–18·3), use of gastric acid inhibitors (OR 9·4, 95% CI 2·4–37·4), and consumption of camembert (OR 4·7, 95% CI 1·1–20·6). Forty percent of cases with prior hospitalization were exposed to high-risk foods during hospitalization.


Language as a barrier in food safety training

When people ask if I speak other languages, I say, sure, I speak Canadian and American.

But from my WASPy roots I’ve grown to appreciate the role different languages have in making a global citizen. I took the lazy solution and travel with someone who knows languages.

In Dubai, more than 60 per cent of food workers in the capital who took hygiene training courses last year failed them, many because of language barriers.

Sure, most food safety training sucks, trying to make HACCP experts or microbiology geeks out of line cooks, but language can be a huge barrier. That’s why we have food safety infosheets in French, Spanish and Portuguese. We can do a bunch of other languages if someone wants them.

Stephen Pakenham-Walsh, a food-service consultant based in Abu Dhabi said relying on English was “short-sighted” on the part of food tutors.

Indians make up 65 per cent of the food industry workforce. Other Asian nationalities comprise 20 per cent of workers, with Arabs making up 12 per cent. The results indicate that the large majority of workers are not getting effective hygiene training.

Food safety doesn’t just happen in English – so why aren’t restaurant inspection disclosure results available in other languages?

You’d figure that getting stuff translated into other languages would be a breeze, since I have an in with the modern languages department. But to do it in real-time is a bit messy.

Whether it’s a recall, an inspection report or a warning label, not everyone who eats in the U.S. is fluent in English. That’s why our food safety infosheets are now available weekly in French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Debbie Pacheco of blogTO writes today that the garbage disposal calendar Toronto distributes has sections in various languages, so why, then, is something as important as Toronto’s DineSafe guidelines only available in English?

One restaurateur told Pacheco he’s interpreted food preparation instructions for his staff before. "If you want that traditional food, it’s usually the older people who don’t necessarily speak English that cook it." He manages his kitchen and is certified in food handling. The city requires that someone with a food handling certificate supervise the kitchen at all times while it’s operating.

Mebrak, who’s been with Cleopatra restaurant for nine years, put it best. "It’s important people really understand how to handle food. It’s about safety for everyone."

Don’t eat poop cupcakes and more

Things are winding down at Kansas State University for the year – at least on the teaching side. In the past, Amy and I have planned some exotic trip to France or Canada to get out of Kansas for the summer, but this year, we’re staying fairly put, with baby Sorenne. Maybe she’ll get acclimated to the heat.

On Friday, for the second year now, Amy hosted the Modern Languages departmental end-of-semester soiree, where all the language professors get together in a Tower of Babel sorta thing. Good fun, good food. And in a food porn moment, Katie made language-based cupcakes. What’s your favorite?

(Oh, and the A-Goo cupcake was in honor of baby Sorenne, cause she says that a lot.)

Language, culture and Salmonella

Amy’s a French professor so I get to hang out with a bunch of folks in Modern Languages. And she speaks French to baby Sorenne, who probably understands more than I do. I’ve taught Amy how to use a digital, tip-sensitive thermometer when cooking all kinds of meat, and she’s taught me to be more sensitive to the cultural nuances of communication.

The intersections of food safety, language and culture are ripe for study. And action. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, yesterday launched a Spanish language Food Safety at Home podcast series. That’s good. But what’s going on in Oregon is better.

There is an outbreak of Salmonella associated with white pepper that has so far sickened at least 42, including 33 in California, four in Oregon, four in Nevada and one in Washington state. Some excellent epi work led William Keene, senior epidemiologist for the Oregon state Public Health Division, and colleagues to test ground white pepper from an Asian restaurant on the east side of Portland. Sure enough, it was positive for salmonella.

According to a report in this morning’s Oregonian, the spice was imported as peppercorns from Vietnam and then ground, packaged and distributed by Union International Food to distributors and manufacturers in the West. It was packaged under the Lian How and Uncle Chen brands.

The Food and Drug Administration has printed warnings about the recall in both English and Mandarin while Oregon’s Public Health Division has added an additional Vietnamese version.

Dr. David Acheson, the FDA’s associate commissioner for foods, said,

"This issue illustrates an important area for food safety in that we are dealing with a relatively small facility. Getting the appropriate information out to small facilities who may not necessarily have English as their first language" is a challenge.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service invites consumers to subscribe to the free podcast service by visiting http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/Feeds/index.asp. Once subscribed to the RSS feed, new broadcasts will be downloaded automatically to the feed reader used by the subscriber.

Language and cultural barriers in food safety communication

Misti Crane of the Columbus Dispatch wrote yesterday that as part of an overhaul of food safety regulation in the city of Columbus (coincidentally, the site for the International Association for Food Protection annual meeting this year), a record number of restaurants have been brought before the city’s Board of Health.  Crane reports that beginning in 2005 the board took action (including probation, suspended operations or revoking licenses) against restaurants 82 times; in the previous 7 years there had been only 10 cases.  The more interesting part of the story to me is how the health department has addressed the sometimes-difficult barrier of interacting with different cultures as a regulator.

Crane writes about a city inspector relating an anecdote about cultural and language issues in a new restaurant:

After seeing some food-safety problems at Fiesta Time, a new Mexican restaurant in Clintonville, a city inspector realized he was facing a language barrier, came back to the office and talked to co-worker Vince Fasone.
Fasone, known as "Vicente" to Spanish-speaking restaurant owners and workers, paid a visit to Fiesta Time. In Spanish, which he speaks fluently after four years living in Mexico City, he explained the violations.
Then he scheduled an early-morning visit last week for staff training.
Fiesta Time co-owner Wendy Hernandez said she and her partner, Jose Bravo, don’t want to break rules and certainly don’t want to find themselves before the Board of Health.
Sometimes, the instructions a manager gives employees sink in better once they’re delivered by an outsider, especially one who speaks their language, Bravo said.

Working with food handlers of differing cultural and ethnic backgrounds can be a barrier in implementing food safety programs and practices.  Not being able to relate what to do, how to do it and most importantly why to do it, makes food safety training ineffective. Understanding different cultures and being able to put food safety in context for a variety of food handlers can differentiate good communication from bad communication.

Many health departments across North America have inspectors and program coordinators who are adept at adjusting their activities to different cultures, but some I have talked to have related that it is sometimes difficult to convince health boards and local politicians of this need.